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Dealing with a Picky Dog or Cat at Meal Time

Challenges are what makes life interesting, overcoming them is what makes them meaningful.

This quote by Joshua J. Marine perfectly summarizes the dilemma faced by pet parents who share a home with a picky dog or cat. Being a pet parent is hard work, and when our pet begins rejecting food, it often leads us on a crazy journey of trial and error. But did you know that a picky pet could often be the result of your own behaviour? Here are some simple tips on how you can work around your finicky, furry friend.

Tip #1: Agree with the Family on What to Feed

Quite often, resistance in dealing with a picky dog or cat stems from non-cooperation from family members. Ever noticed your dog or cat has a preferred person to sit next to during dinner? Well, chances are, he/she is feeding your little friend when you aren’t watching. Successful training starts with involving the whole household, getting everybody on the same page and ensuring that the pet is being taken care of. If there are reasons for insisting that your dog or cat does not get human food, sit everyone down and explain that there are certain ground rules to be upheld while you are at work or school, and get them to understand why they are necessary.

Tip #2: Abstain from Free Feeding

Ah, free feeding. The common cardinal sin of pet ownership. If you aren’t familiar with this term, free feeding refers to filling up your dog or cat’s food bowl, and topping it up whenever you notice the contents are getting low. Free feeding stems from the concept of “Convenience”. But however convenient free feeding your dog or cat is, doing so is really no more than a disservice to your furry friend. Not only does doing so lead to obesity, it also prevents you from keeping track of your pet’s appetite. When your pet learns that it cam pick and choose when it wants to have its meals, it provides it with the liberty to also reject food that is presented to it, because it learns that it can simply wait for its bowl to be replenished with something more appetizing.

Tip #3: Strictly No Table Feeding

It’s a fact – No one can resist puss-in-boots or puppy dog eyes whenever our pets set their minds to getting something off the table. Unfortunately for you, you’re going to have to strengthen your mind enough to say no. Besides there being many foods which contain certain ingredients that aren’t suited for our pets, table feeding also tells your pet that it is okay to beg for scraps. The leading cause of picky dogs and cats, table feeding introduces our furry friends to the world of gourmet human food. Surely tastier than regular dry pet food, dogs and cats that develop a liking for human meals eventually learn to reject their own meals. Table feeding is almost, always the reason for picky pets in the home, and many pet parents can testify to this, often narrowing down the source of the problem to a stubborn family member or simply lack of discipline between themselves.

Tip #4: Ensure There Aren’t Underlying Digestive Problems

In the rare case, your pet dog or cat could be rejecting its food because it is upsetting their tummies. To the pet owner who pays little attention to their furry friend’s diet, this could be a reason why your pet is refusing to eat. Allergies, sensitivities and even expired foods can lead to indigestion that easily goes unnoticed, especially if a member of the family (who isn’t you!) could be walking your dog or cleaning the litter bin and isn’t thinking to raise the alarm. Consider rotating or switching up your pet’s diet to find something it can tolerate or enjoy, and take time to ask the rest of the family if they’ve noticed anything unusual, like loose stool, vomiting or flatulence in your dog or cat.

Tip #5: Consider Using Meal Toppers

Most often, our pet dogs and cats are fed a dry, kibble based diet. If we’re going to be honest about it, dry pet food isn’t really the most appealing thing to eat everyday, and not many pet owners consider that their pets might enjoy a little switch-up every now and then. After all, variety is the spice of life! With so many high quality pet food available in the market, in so many forms, dogs and cats now have the luxury of being fed dehydrated, freeze-dried, raw or even home cooked meals.

While dry pet food is still the most affordable option for the bulk of pet owners, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make meal time special. After all, we spend most of our time at work, and away from our dog or cat. Investing a little more time or effort into preparing a tasty meal that is enjoyable for your pet can also be a rewarding experience for you as a pet parent.

Meal toppers are an affordable, fuss-free and convenient way to spice up breakfast or dinner for your dog or cat. Coming in the forms of pates, stews and even freeze-dried morsels, the wide variety of consistencies and textures guarantee that there’ll be something suited to your pet’s taste. Check out our team’s tried and tested top picks for meal toppers below!

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Debrah is Nekojam's leading lady. She can often be found hiding in quiet corners spending quality time with her cat; Choops Armstrong, or pampering Angel the dog with tasty treats. She also totes packets of pet food around in her handbag for furry friends she meets on her adventures around Singapore. She likes making new friends, so hit her up on Instagram @kissfaintkill.

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